Messi’s future in Spain has once again been thrown into doubt after the Catalan side’s latest Champions League humbling, this time at the hands of oil-rich Paris Saint-Germain who savaged the five-time champions 4-1 at the Camp Nou earlier this week, once again stoking rumors that Messi could be moving towards the Barcelona exit.
The Barca skipper attempted to force a move away from the club last August, citing language in his contract which he claimed enabled him to leave the club on a free transfer but eventually recanted his desire in order to avoid an ugly legal battle.
However, Messi’s about-face last summer is looking more and more a like a stay of execution rather than a tacit ceasefire.
Per a report by The Sun, Manchester City offered Messi’s a bumper deal several months ago worth an eye-watering £600 million (US$841 million) across five years, but have since reduced their offer significantly towards the £430 million mark – citing the current financial climate as well as Messi being one year further into his career as the reason for the offer being downgraded.
However, a spokesperson for the English club denies that any concrete offer has been made for Messi – either now, or last summer. It is thought, though, that Manchester City’s denial belies ongoing talks within the club designed to orchestrate an offer for the six-time Ballon d’Or winner.
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It is understood that Manchester City’s multi-year deal would see Messi represent the club for several season before departing for another of clubs under the City Football Group banner – with New York City FC thought to be the preferred destination. Furthermore, upon his retirement from playing Messi would take on an ambassadorship role with the group.
Paris Saint-Germain, the authors of Barcelona’s latest Champions League heartache, are also understood to be considering a deal for Messi.
Some pundits, though, have stated their concern about Manchester City signing off on such a blockbuster deal for a player who turns 34 in the summer. Former Chelsea man Joe Cole, in his role as commentator for British broadcaster BT Sports, said that the current iteration of Lionel Messi is a far cry from the figure who dominated global football for more than a decade.
“Messi looked disinterested,” said Cole. “It’s really hard for any ex-player to criticize him because he’s a genius and the greatest player I’ve seen play football but tonight he didn’t look like he was emotionally engaged in the game.
“You’d have to do your due diligence before you sign Messi. The 34-year-old Messi, if he plays like that it will be a gamble. To take him into a club where Pep [Guardiola] relies on energy, enthusiasm, togetherness.
“It’s a mess at Barca, I don’t know how they’re going to sort it out. I can’t see Messi staying there.”
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